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What Do I Need to Know About Hospice?

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, the amount of decisions that need to be made while processing all of the accompanying emotions can be overwhelming.

Count on our hospice team to support you each step of the way. We’ll determine your eligibility, help you navigate insurance coverage, and work with you and your family to create a personalized plan that ensures you receive the care you need and want.

Hospice Care Wherever You Call Home

Hospice is not a place, but a service that can be provided wherever you need it when you no longer can benefit from cure-oriented treatments. If you live within a 40-mile radius of one of our hospice home offices, you can receive hospice services wherever you call home, including:

Levels of Hospice Care

No matter what setting you choose, you’ll work with Avera’s specially trained team to create a plan of care that’s tailored to your unique circumstances and wishes. Levels of care include:

  • Acute – Addresses intense pain and symptoms, such as nausea, severe shortness of breath, or complex medical needs.
  • Respite – Provides up to five days of caregiver relief at the Dougherty Hospice House with the goal of returning home. Respite care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid and some insurance plans.
  • Routine Home Care – Offers the option to reside in your home for extended hospice care.

In addition to medical care, hospice utilizes complementary therapies such as music and art, and provides emotional and spiritual support to the dying person and the loved ones, including bereavement support for the family after the death.

Experienced Hospice Team

Enjoy personal interaction with our dedicated team of hospice professionals trained to respond to medical, emotional and spiritual needs. Our experienced staff work to ease symptoms, discuss important decisions and enhance quality of life by supporting the whole person — mind, body and spirit.

Read more about the hospice team

You or your loved one may work with a variety of Avera@Home hospice team members, including:

  • Physicians – Oversee care; may include your primary care physician and the Avera@Home medical director
  • Hospice nurses – Visit regularly to assess your condition and deliver treatment based on your care plan; coordinate services with caregivers and other hospice team members
  • Social workers – Provide counseling, a listening ear and practical support with assessments, consultations, education, resources, referral services, advocacy and discharge planning
  • Spiritual counselors – Work with volunteer clergy of many faiths to address spiritual concerns while giving needed support and kindness
  • Chaplains – Offer spiritual care, reflection and support to the entire family
  • Pharmacists – Provide education and advice about medication and symptom control
  • Dietitians – Offer nutritional guidance
  • Care assistants/aides/homemakers – Help with personal care and household tasks
  • Volunteers – Assist the hospice team with a variety of activities, such as regular visits to the home, caregiver respite, attentive listening and encouragement, light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping or other errands, pet walking, reading aloud or writing letters

Hope Remains with Hospice Care

Choosing hospice doesn’t mean that you’re "giving up." When a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life.

With hospice care, hope remains for being able to make more memories with your loved ones. In fact, patients who receive hospice care may live longer than expected because of expert symptom control and relief from stress.

Hospice Care Beyond Six Months

Even though a terminal illness diagnosis predicts six months or less, you can stay in hospice care longer, if needed. As long as you meet the criteria of having a terminal prognosis and are recertified with a limited life expectancy of six months or less, you can continue to receive hospice care.

From time to time, hospice patients may even have the opportunity to leave hospice care in order to pursue a new treatment option or even graduate out of hospice care after showing signs of recovery or remission.

Patients always have the right to withdraw from hospice and pursue traditional care at any time, for any reason. If a qualified patient requests to restart hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance will allow readmission with a doctor’s order.

Hospice Support & Resources for Family Members

Learn more about hospice care by reviewing Avera’s recommended resources from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, available at the CaringInfo website.

Prepare for the best possible transition with information about advance directives and end-of-life planning, as well as our beautiful and comfortable hospice locations at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, SD, and Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs in Yankton, SD.


Share information about your health condition by creating a personal online journal website with CaringBridge. Your personal website can be viewed only by those granted access. You or your family may easily update the site from your home or from a hospice facility.

Bereavement and Grief Support

To ease this life transition for the 13 months following the death of a loved one, take advantage of bereavement and grief support from Avera. Services include:

  • Individual counseling with a bereavement coordinator
  • Informational mailings
  • Memorial gatherings
  • Comfort from hospice volunteers, including personal visits and other services
  • Support groups for anyone experiencing the pain of loss

How Can We Help?

To learn more about your hospice options, complete the online form and one of our Avera@Home experts will contact you within the next business day.

Contact us online

Give Us a Call

Avera@Home can provide hospice care to people living within our 86-county service area. For more information, please contact the closest agency location or submit a request.

  • Aberdeen: 605-622-5200
  • Estherville: 712-362-6169 or 1-844-942-8372
  • Gregory: 605-668-8327
  • Hartington: 605-668-8327
  • Madison: 605-556-4030
  • Milbank: 605-432-4538
  • Miller: 605-853-0343
  • Mitchell: 605-995-2268
  • O’Neill: 605-668-8327
  • Pierre: 605-224-3218
  • Sioux Falls: 605-322-7705
  • Southwest Minnesota: 507-537-7070
  • Spencer: 712-264-6380
  • Yankton: 605-668-8327

Related stories from our experts

Hospice Care Guide

Download our print-friendly Complete Hospice Resource Guide.

Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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